Estimating prehistoric American Indian population size for united states area: Implications of the nineteenth century population decline and nadir

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Abstract

Implications of a revised United States American Indian nadir population and the pattern of decline leading to it are examined. Substituting the new nadir for that used by Dobyns (1966) lowers by several million his estimates of Indian population for the United States (and Canada) area. These estimates then become more compatible with ones currently being suggested by other scholars. The nineteenth century decline leading to this nadir is found to be remarkably linear. Assuming linearity in decline from initial European contact through the eighteenth century, an aboriginal population estimate of 1,845,183 for the United States area may be extrapolated, along with estimates for intervening years. The nineteenth century decline is then graphed with the data extrapolated to 1492. The resulting pattern of population decline is quite different from the ones suggested by Mooney (1928) and Dobyns (1966).

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